The Unemployment Numbers as Sham: Where Are the Freelancers?

The Unemployment Numbers as Sham: Where Are the Freelancers?

Sara Horowitz

The problem is that the unemployment numbers are wrong. They just aren't keeping up with the changes we're seeing in the new workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment surveys were designed (back in the 1940s) to keep track of who has a full-time job, who doesn't, and who's looking. But the way we work has changed dramatically since then. People are abandoning the 40-hour workweek -- some by choice, some by circumstance -- and becoming freelancers, working gig to gig, project to project. At last count, in 2006, more than 42 million people were considered independent workers. That's nearly one-third of the workforce.

The Freelance Economy
 Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 11:06 a.m.

As many as one-third of workers in the United States are freelancers. Between 10 and 42 million people now work outside the traditional 9-to-5 model. Many full-time employees, from graphic artists and construction workers to lawyers, started working as independent contractors out of necessity during the recession. While freelancers enjoy more flexibility and autonomy, working independently comes with challenges. Freelancers receive no pension, no health insurance, no workers compensation and no job security. A discussion about the risks and benefits of the new “freelance economy.”


Ross Eisenbrey 
vice president of the Economic Policy Institute.
Sara Horowitz 
founder of the Freelancers Union and author of the "Freelancers's Bible."
Fabio Rosati 
CEO of Elance, a company that connects freelance workers with employers.

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